El Clásico shows two teams in decline but rivalry remains strong 🇪🇸

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OneFootball

Phil Costa

Article image: El Clásico shows two teams in decline but rivalry remains strong 🇪🇸

If, like us, you grew up during the early 2000s – there was no better footballing education than watching El Clásico.

Seeing Barcelona and Real Madrid face off twice a year, with their outrageous selection of individual talent was a joy.

It was the fixture everybody watched. The added narrative of Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi only heightened the drama.

But compared to now? In keeping with the last few seasons, buzz is naturally generated among Spanish press – but that buzz is struggling to permeate elsewhere.

LaLiga

Barcelona
Real Madrid

Unfortunately, the Barcelona and Real Madrid we’re watching today are shadows of their former selves. Football is a cyclical game but that doesn’t make it any less disappointing.

Whether it’s mismanagement at board level, poor transfer business, lack of academy prospects being brought through or a combination of all three, this once famed spectacle has lost its edge.

Both clubs are aware of this. Despite their continued success and silverware they are no longer invincible, stood atop of LaLiga swatting away everything in their path.

But three points are three points. Which is exactly what both managers in the dugout will be desperate for.

Madrid were humbled twice in seven days following two shock defeats against Cádiz and Shakhtar Donetsk, with Zinedine Zidane now reportedly fighting for his job.

Sergio Ramos looks set to return for Los Blancos but their reliance on him should spark concern – they have lost seven of their last eight Champions League matches without the 34-year-old.

Barcelona are hardly pulling up trees under Ronald Koeman. Positive signs against Villarreal and Celta Vigo were quickly dashed against Sevilla, before losing to Granada.

However, after a turbulent summer, Lionel Messi looks back in confident mood with Ansu Fati, Frenkie de Jong and others thriving around him.

But beyond their newfound youthful exuberance, the Blaugrana still look to Messi with loving eyes in hope he can create something special amid their passive passing play.

So what happens on Saturday?

Barcelona are undefeated in 32 of their last 33 home matches, while Real Madrid are unbeaten in their last eight away matches. Something has to give.

Both teams need the points in their own unique way, and despite this clash falling short on years gone by, the intense rivalry and hatred remains.

Could it really be advantage: LaLig for the victor? We’ll have to wait and see.